March 23, 2014

Cornell Approves $1,920 Increase in Tuition For Undergraduates

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Undergraduate students across all seven colleges will pay an additional $1,920 in tuition for the 2014-2015 academic year, the University announced Thursday.

The total cost of attending Cornell — which includes tuition, room and board and required fees — will increase to $60,728 from $58,808 for all out-of-state contract or endowed college undergraduates due to budget changes approved by the Board of Trustees. The cost of attending Cornell has increased by more than $10,000 in the last five academic years, The Sun previously reported.

Barbara Knuth, vice provost and dean of the Graduate School, said financial aid awards will generally increase to account for the rise in tuition.

“If an undergraduate student is receiving financial aid and his or her personal and family financial circumstances have not changed, then the financial aid award will typically increase,” she said. “So what the student on aid sees as the actual cost of attendance that has to be paid by the student — and family — will not change in most cases.”

“What you see is a divide between social classes where the middle is left out. There are a lot of students who will graduate [with] debt just to have the Cornell logo on their diploma.” — Andrew Soluk ’15

Tuition for endowed and out-of-state contract college students will rise 4.25 percent next year, while tuition for in-state contract college students will go up 6.62 percent, according to to the University.

Prof. Ronald Ehrenberg, industrial and labor relations, economics echoed Knuth’s sentiments, saying the tuition increase will have a minimal effect on students who receive aid.

“Students on Cornell grant aid will not face any increased tuition costs unless their families’ incomes have increased at a faster rate than tuition,” he said.

Additionally, there is no increase in housing or dining rates for students that choose to live and eat on-campus, according to the University.

“Because Cornell’s housing and dining rates have not increased, if [students receiving aid] live and dine off campus, they will have to figure out a way to pay for any cost,” Ehrenberg said.

Some students said they were concerned by what they described as “outrageous” and “disappointing” tuition hikes.

“Over the past decades, tuition has increased faster than inflation, leaving many families struggling to fund their college education,” Marc Masson ’17 said. “What about the students who come from moderate-income families and are not eligible for financial aid, yet desperately need it?”

Both the 4.25 percent increase in tuition for out-of-state contract and endowed college students and the 6.62 percent increase for in-state contract college students exceed the national annual inflation rate of 1.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Andrew Soluk ’15 also stressed the financial burden the tuition increase will have on students that do not receive financial aid, who make up approximately half of the undergraduates at the University.

“What you see is a divide between social classes where the middle is left out. There are a lot of students who will graduate [with] debt just to have the Cornell logo on their diploma,” he said.

International students — many of whom do not receive aid — could face “drastic financial consequences” from the tuition hikes, according to Enrico Bonatti ’14, international liaison at-large for the Student Assembly.

“If an international student does not [receive] financial aid on the year of their acceptance, they will not be able to apply again,” he said. “So many international students that were accepted and were not eligible for financial aid could suddenly find themselves in need, but without any possibility to apply.”

However, S.A. President Ulysses Smith ’14 said it is important to recognize that tuition increases are a nationwide trend.

“It is important … [to] really shift our focus on figuring out strategies to make higher education more affordable and accessible for students,” he said. “Cornell is not unique in raising its tuition.”

In the 2013-14 academic year, tuition has increased at an average rate of 1.9 percent at private nonprofit four-year institutions, according to the College Board.

Smith added that the University is unique in the extensive financial support it provides its undergraduate students.

“We need to make sure that we are doing all that we can to bolster our financial aid programs and grant opportunities for all students,” he said.